The Missouri State Lady Bears withstood a late charge by the Wichita State Shockers to win 73-62 Friday night at JQH Arena.
It's the first Missouri Valley Conference victory for the Lady Bears in three games.
MSU, who went into halftime with a 29-22 advantage, built up a 12 point lead in the third quarter, only to see the Shockers come storming back to tie the game 47-47 on Tamara Lee's three pointer with 8:29 left in regulation.
But freshman Alexa Willard broke the deadlock with a jumper 15 seconds later and Lexi Hughes followed with a three pointer, leading MSU on a 12-0 run to pull away.
Missouri State Coach Kellie Harper says her players don't take anything for granted, and this was a good win for them. "I'm really proud of our team. We did some really good things today. I thought we played hard. There are obviously still some areas that we're going to need to continue to improve in, but just proud of a lot of individuals doing some really good things tonight."
Liza Fruendt hit three shots from beyond the arc and finished with 19 points to lead four Lady Bears in double figure scoring.
"We defended, and we made a priority to get stops," Fruendt said. "A part of that was we were really good teammates to each other, and we were going to come together and go win this game."
Fellow starters Willard had 17 points, Aubrey Buckley 15 points and ten rebounds, Audrey Holt 13 points, and Hughes nine points.
In fact, none of Missouri State's scoring came off the bench. "Our starters played a lot more minutes than normal, and they were very productive offensively," Harper said.
Buckley says she and her teammates kept their composure, even when the Shockers got it tied. "They make runs and we make runs as well. Just keep playing the good defense we were and it would come out good for us in the end."
MSU got to the free throw line for 23 attempts, connecting on 17 of them, and the Lady Bears shot 43% from the field (25-58), including 67% shooting in the final quarter.
Missouri State out-rebounded Wichita State 40-30.
Win the victory, the Lady Bears improve to 5-9 overall and 1-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Lee had 17 points, including four three pointers, to lead the Shockers, who drop to 5-9 overall, 0-3 in the Valley.
After playing the last six games at home, the Lady Bears will hit the road to take on the Evansville Aces at 7:00 p.m. next Friday night, January 13th.
Missouri State is now 31-12 against the Shockers in games played in Springfield.
The Lady Bears held preseason first-team all MVC pick Rangie Bessard to seven points. She had been averaging 17 per game.
MSU continues its amazing streak of putting games away when they have the lead with five minutes left in regulation, winning 92 consecutive games in that situation dating back to February, 2011.
Friday's announced attendance at JQH Arena was 2,706.
Friday marked the annual We Back Pat game as two of the late Pat Summitt's former players, Kellie Harper and Shockers Coach Jody Adams-Birch, faced each other on opposing benches. Coaches wore purple shirts and donations to the Pat Summitt Foundation to help find a cure for Alzheimer's disease were accepted.